Code of the District of Columbia

§ 28–3904. Unfair or deceptive trade practices.

It shall be a violation of this chapter for any person to engage in an unfair or deceptive trade practice, whether or not any consumer is in fact misled, deceived, or damaged thereby, including to:

(a) represent that goods or services have a source, sponsorship, approval, certification, accessories, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not have;

(b) represent that the person has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, certification, or connection that the person does not have;

(c) represent that goods are original or new if in fact they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, or second hand, or have been used;

(d) represent that goods or services are of particular standard, quality, grade, style, or model, if in fact they are of another;

(e) misrepresent as to a material fact which has a tendency to mislead;

(e-1) [r]epresent that a transaction confers or involves rights, remedies, or obligations which it does not have or involve, or which are prohibited by law;

(f) fail to state a material fact if such failure tends to mislead;

(f-1) [u]se innuendo or ambiguity as to a material fact, which has a tendency to mislead;

(g) disparage the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representations of material facts;

(h) advertise or offer goods or services without the intent to sell them or without the intent to sell them as advertised or offered;

(i) advertise or offer goods or services without supplying reasonably expected public demand, unless the advertisement or offer discloses a limitation of quantity or other qualifying condition which has no tendency to mislead;

(j) make false or misleading representations of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions, or the price in comparison to price of competitors or one’s own price at a past or future time;

(k) falsely state that services, replacements, or repairs are needed;

(l) falsely state the reasons for offering or supplying goods or services at sale or discount prices;

(m) harass or threaten a consumer with any act other than legal process, either by telephone, cards, letters, or any form of electronic or social media;

(n) cease work on, or return after ceasing work on, an electrical or mechanical apparatus, appliance, chattel or other goods, or merchandise, in other than the condition contracted for, or to impose a separate charge to reassemble or restore such an object to such a condition without notification of such charge prior to beginning work on or receiving such object;

(o) replace parts or components in an electrical or mechanical apparatus, appliance, chattel or other goods, or merchandise when such parts or components are not defective, unless requested by the consumer;

(p) falsely state or represent that repairs, alterations, modifications, or servicing have been made and receiving remuneration therefor when they have not been made;

(q) fail to supply to a consumer a copy of a sales or service contract, lease, promissory note, trust agreement, or other evidence of indebtedness which the consumer may execute;

(r) make or enforce unconscionable terms or provisions of sales or leases; in applying this subsection, consideration shall be given to the following, and other factors:

(1) knowledge by the person at the time credit sales are consummated that there was no reasonable probability of payment in full of the obligation by the consumer;

(2) knowledge by the person at the time of the sale or lease of the inability of the consumer to receive substantial benefits from the property or services sold or leased;

(3) gross disparity between the price of the property or services sold or leased and the value of the property or services measured by the price at which similar property or services are readily obtainable in transactions by like buyers or lessees;

(4) that the person contracted for or received separate charges for insurance with respect to credit sales with the effect of making the sales, considered as a whole, unconscionable; and

(5) that the person has knowingly taken advantage of the inability of the consumer reasonably to protect his interests by reasons of age, physical or mental infirmities, ignorance, illiteracy, or inability to understand the language of the agreement, or similar factors;

(s) pass off goods or services as those of another;

(t) use deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services;

(u) represent that the subject of a transaction has been supplied in accordance with a previous representation when it has not;

(v) misrepresent the authority of a salesman, representative or agent to negotiate the final terms of a transaction;

(w) offer for sale or distribute any consumer product which is not in conformity with an applicable consumer product safety standard or has been ruled a banned hazardous product under the federal Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. § 2051-83), without holding a certificate issued in accordance with section 14(a) of that Act to the effect that such consumer product conforms to all applicable consumer product safety rules (unless the certificate holder knows that such consumer product does not conform), or without relying in good faith on the representation of the manufacturer or a distributor of such product that the product is not subject to a consumer product safety rule issued under that Act;

(x) sell consumer goods in a condition or manner not consistent with that warranted by operation of sections 28:2-312 through 318 of the District of Columbia Official Code, or by operation or requirement of federal law;

(y) violate any provision of the District of Columbia Consumer LayAway Plan Act (section 28-3818);

(z) violate any provision of the Rental Housing Locator Consumer Protection Act of 1979 (section 28-3819) or, if a rental housing locator, to refuse or fail to honor any obligation under a rental housing locator contract;

(z-1) violate any provision of Chapter 46 of this title;

(aa) violate any provision of sections 32-404, 32-405, 32-406, and 32-407;

(bb) refuse to provide the repairs, refunds, or replacement motor vehicles or fails to provide the disclosures of defects or damages required by the Automobile Consumer Protection Act of 1984;

(cc) violate any provision of the Real Property Credit Line Deed of Trust Act of 1987;

(dd) violate any provision of title 16 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations;

(ee) violate any provision of the Public Insurance Adjuster Act of 2002 [Chapter 16A of Title 31];

(ff) violate any provision of Chapter 33 of this title;

(gg) violate any provision of the Home Equity Protection Act of 2007 [Chapter 24A of Title 42];

(hh) fail to make a disclosure as required by § 26-1113(a-1);

(ii) violate any provision of Chapter 53 of this title; or

(jj) violate any agreement entered into pursuant to section 28-3909(c)(6).


(July 22, 1976, D.C. Law 1-76, § 5, 23 DCR 1185; Oct. 4, 1978, D.C. Law 2-115, § 3, 25 DCR 1997; June 21, 1980, D.C. Law 3-71, § 3(a), 27 DCR 1891; enacted, Sept. 6, 1980, D.C. Law 3-85, § 3(a), (d), 27 DCR 2900; Mar. 13, 1985, D.C. Law 5-136, § 16, 31 DCR 5727; Mar. 14, 1985, D.C. Law 5-162, § 9(a), 32 DCR 160; Jan. 28, 1988, D.C. Law 7-67, § 5, 34 DCR 7441; Mar. 8, 1991, D.C. Law 8-234, § 2(e), 38 DCR 296; Mar. 8, 1991, D.C. Law 8-236, § 9, 38 DCR 306; Feb. 5, 1994, D.C. Law 10-68, § 27(e), 40 DCR 6311; July 25, 1995, D.C. Law 11-30, § 7(h), 42 DCR 1547; Apr. 9, 1997, D.C. Law 11-255, § 27(x), 44 DCR 1271; Mar. 27, 2003, D.C. Law 14-256, § 11(b), 50 DCR 238; Mar. 13, 2004, D.C. Law 15-105, § 63, 51 DCR 881; Nov. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 17-42, § 3(b), 54 DCR 9988; Jan. 29, 2008, D.C. Law 17-87, § 7, 54 DCR 11913; Jan. 29, 2008, D.C. Law 17-90, § 3, 54 DCR 11925; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 222, 56 DCR 1117; Apr. 23, 2013, D.C. Law 19-282, § 2(b)(2), 60 DCR 2132; Feb. 26, 2015, D.C. Law 20-155, § 2012(b), 61 DCR 9990; Apr. 22, 2017, D.C. Law 21-280, § 6(b), 64 DCR 168; July 17, 2018, D.C. Law 22-140, § 2(c), 65 DCR 5970.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 28-3904.

1973 Ed., T. 28, Appx., § 5.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4431, § 28-3905, § 28-3909, § 28-4006, and § 38-1312.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-256 added subsec. (ee).

D.C. Law 15-105, in subsec. (ee), validated a previously made technical correction.

D.C. Law 17-42, in subsec. (cc), deleted “or” from the end; in subsec. (dd), substituted a semicolon for a period; in subsec. (ee), substituted “; or” for a period; and added subsec. (ff).

D.C. Law 17-87, in subsec. (ee), deleted “or” from the end; in subsec. (ff), substituted “; or” for a period; and added subsec. (gg).

D.C. Law 17-90, in subsec. (ff), deleted “or” from the end; in subsec. (gg), substituted “; or” for a period; and added subsec. (hh).

D.C. Law 17-353 validated previously made technical corrections in pars. (ff), (gg), and (hh).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-282 added (e-1) and (f-1).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-155 rewrote (m).

Cross References

Automobile Consumer Protection Act, limitations of actions, see § 50-507.

Automobile Consumer Protection Act, rules and regulations for implementation, see § 50-508.

Education licensure commission, criminal sanctions, fines and penalties, see § 38-1312.

Employment Services Licensing and Regulation Act, penalties for violations, see § 32-414.

Hearing aid dealers and consumers, grounds for revocation and suspension, see § 28-4006.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2012(b) of the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-377, July 14, 2014, 61 DCR 7598, 20 STAT 3696).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2012(b) of the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-449, October 10, 2014, 61 DCR 10915, 20 STAT 4188).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2012(b) of the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Support Second Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-566, January 9, 2015, 62 DCR 884, 21 STAT 541).

References in Text

The Public Insurance Adjuster Licensure Act of 2002, referred to in subsec. (ee), is D.C. Law 14-256.

The “Automobile Consumer Protection Act of 1984”, referred to in paragraph (bb) of this section, is D.C. Law 5-162, codified as Chapter 5 of Title 50.

The “Real Property Credit Line Deed of Trust Act of 1987,” referred to in subsection (cc) of this section, is codified as Chapter 23 of Title 42.

Effective Dates

Section 4 of D.C. Law 17-42 provided: “This act shall take effect following the certification by the Chief Financial Officer, through a revised quarterly revenue estimate for fiscal year 2008, that local funds exceed the annual revenue estimates incorporated in the fiscal year 2008 budget and financial plan in an amount sufficient to account for its fiscal effect. The Chief Financial Officer shall set aside revenue to account for the cost of fully implementing this act.”

Editor's Notes

Application of D.C. Law 14-256 including the amendments to this section: See section 12 of D.C. Law 14-256, codified as § 31-1631.12.